Is the level of training for Green Beret recruits being undermined by a complacent command

| December 2, 2017 | 68 Comments

From The Burnpit;

This is all manner of not good, but since it is already out there, it is worth looking at what the debate is actually about.  Now, for context, I have no idea what is happening there other than what I have read on SOFREP, which if you didn’t know, is the premier website for special operators.

To set the stage for the dueling narratives you are about to see, I’ll use the Army Times:

The Army has launched an investigation into allegations of lowered training standards and “moral cowardice” among Army leaders in charge of the school that trains soldiers into Green Berets.

The accusations were lodged in an anonymous email. It was sent by a writer purporting to be speaking on behalf of an undisclosed number of trainers at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In the letter, the author says that over the past two years, a drive to increase the number of Special Forces soldiers has resulted in fundamental standards being removed, and the training cadre fear it could threaten the future of the force.

That’s enough to understand the general debate here.   Basically both sides agree that the product of Green Berets being sent back to the teams should be the same.  A group of anonymous cadre insist that the product is not as good.  The JFKSWCS command says that the standard has not been lowered, it has simply been adjusted.  For instance, they say that testing the physical fitness of Special Forces recruits at the end of training is a better time than at the beginning of training.

But, the charges are also that some of the standards are being ignored all together, which the command again refutes.  Again, I have no idea, I’m not there, and know absolutely no one involved.

But, you should read both the genesis letter of this donnybrook, and the command’s response.

The letter is unambiguously titled “Careerism, cronyism, and malfeasance in the Special Warfare Center” and we’ll start with some of the claims.

This paragraph in particular (again, via SOFREP) is particularly damning and straightforward:

We consistently and concretely identify dozens of graduates every year who are incapable of ever being ‘value-added’ to ODA’s yet are pushed forward to you. THAT NUMBER IS SET TO RISE DRAMATICALLY in the very near future. To clarify, we instructors recognize that none of us graduating the Q-Course were fully competent Green Berets when we first arrived to our teams. We are also acutely aware that senior generations derisively judging their juniors is a tradition as old as humanity. So this address is not being written because ‘cherries are so much more cherry than we were when we were cherries’. We do not expect them to be assets yet, we only expect that they possess the basic qualities necessary to become assets. I am asking for 20 minutes of your time because many students graduating the Q-course now do not possess those qualities and, from this moment forward, determining if ANY students possess them is not possible. The actions of SWCS leadership have created a new era of Special Forces that are; increasingly incapable of actualizing SOF attributes; markedly and demonstrably weaker; and quantifiably projecting measurable risk and liability onto the teammates with which they serve. Before this paradigm shift, cadre due diligence was capable of some risk mitigation in these aspects. We could, did, and often still do reach back to teams and prepare them for those [inevitable] outliers that slip through the course unimpeded due to cronysim, nepotism, or malfeasance. But the recent systematic dismissal of course standards and continous violation of regulations at the Training Group and SWCS echelons makes student failure nigh impossible. Assessing, Identifying, and mitigating prolonged individual performance has historically been a cornerstone of the pipleline. That has been provably replaced with willful mediocrity. This climate has been empowered by a feckless, selfish, and recreant command ideology…..   [commanders and NCO names omitted.]

It’s hard to start an argument calling a command “feckless, selfish, and recreant” and then come to some understanding.  Those are a pretty high bar to cross over to find common ground on.

The letter cites to some specifics as well, after recounting some of the changes it continues:

This is the state of the entire SFQC as it stands today. Students do not need to be able to pass a 2-mile run at an 80% standard. They do not need to pass a 5-mile run in under 40 minutes. They do not need to be able to pass a 12-mile ruck march in under 3 hours. They are not required to find ANY points during their land nav training and assessment. They do not need to be able to perform 8 pull-ups. They do not need to be able to perform 57 push-ups, or 66 sit-ups. They no longer need to be able to climb a 15 foot rope with weight on. Students are no longer administered any form of physical or administrative punishment. After passing a 19-ish day selection process, there are no physical barriers to earning the coveted Green Beret. These all were standards for EVERY Green Beret in modern history prior to this month. To say that standards have not been eliminated would be laughable, were it not so tragic.

It also notes one possible causation, but does so I think by correctly noting that standards must be the same:

I hesitate to begin on this axis, but it warrants the most illumination. To be clear, this is in no way a commentary on the debate concerning the efficacy of women serving in Special Forces. The Regiment’s attitude is clear, the debate is a heated one, and both sides of the aisle have documented numerous credible arguments. That is a separate discussion entirely. Regardless of one’s opinion on the topic, a universally accepted truth recognized by all parties is that if women yearn to join the force, they should meet the same standards achieved by those men they wish to serve with. This is where no reasonable person disagrees. No one has said “If they want to join, give them a lower standard so they can join.” Yet this is exactly where the current leadership has taken it upon themselves to inject an end state no one wants, to achieve personal endeavors that benefit no one. They have stated through continuous action and policy implementation that they do not want women to meet the standard. What they want, is to markedly lower the standards enough to ensure that any woman attempting this path will have absolutely no issue achieving it. They have said time and again that they want to maintain the standards, but have continuously lowered, and now eliminated them.

So that is the letter from November 27th, or that was the day it at least hit SOFREP.  I don’t know if it was floating around before that, or if it was that day.  Either way, a response came in yesterday from the command, which while not complete, at least started the discussion of where they were.  Again, the original letter appears to have been written extensively, perhaps over a long period of time, I don’t know, but the response was at least quick, if not fully satisfying.

It comes from  Major General Kurt Sonntag, Commander of the Special Warfare Center (once again, via SOFREP):

Many of you have seen the anonymous letter calling into question the integrity of our training standards and the quality of the Soldiers being produced. Let me be clear, I would be proud to serve with each and every one of our Special Forces Qualification Course graduates, and I stand behind the quality of every Soldier we are sending to the operational force.  […]

The SFAS process ensures candidates successfully demonstrate the qualities of the Army Special Operations Force Attributes under dynamic and stressful conditions. To join the Special Forces Regiment, each candidate must demonstrate they possess the required strength, cognitive flexibility, and willpower to thrive in challenging and uncertain Special Operations environments. Students are evaluated using a holistic and multidiscipline approach, supported by a range of military and scientific experts to include psychologists, physiological experts and experienced combat veterans who select candidates who are physically strong, mentally tough and possess the character necessary to serve in the regiment.

If SFAS is correct, and we believe it is, the SFQC is not a place where high attrition rates should occur. Instead, the mission of the SFQC cadre is to train to standard. Without a doubt, if you were to take five Green Berets who attended the course at different periods of time, none of them would have had to meet the same standard as those Soldiers who are now in the course. Since 9/11, the SFQC has had at least eight significant modifications, each resulting in new or modified Tasks, Conditions, & Standards throughout the respective programs of instruction. These modifications are made to keep training relevant, efficient and effective, with the needs of the operational force driving each one. Today, the SFQC consists of six distinct phases (Orientation, Small Unit Tactics/Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), Military Occupational Specialty, Unconventional Warfare, language and graduation; followed by Military Free Fall training), which takes a minimum of 62 weeks in length if a candidate is not recycled.

And then, in a bullet form, he identifies some things from the letter which MG Sonntag says are demonstrably false:

– No fundamental SF standard has been removed.

– No academic or character performance standards have been adjusted.

– Previously, the Special Forces Physical Fitness Assessment (instituted as a ‘must-pass’ standard in 2012), rope climb, and ruck march were evaluated in the first phase of SFQC. Cadre will continue to administer diagnostic evaluations of these events throughout the SFQC with the final evaluation occurring in the last phase of the course. This shift gives the Cadre more time to prepare the students for these events. Students must meet these standards prior joining the operational force.

– Training in the SFQC remains among the most difficult in the Department of Defense. In 2017, more than 2,000 Soldiers attempted SFAS and 541 graduated the SFQC.

– I value our Cadre’s input and have not, and will not, issue a gag order. The CSM and I have visited each unit and conducted more than 10 town hall meetings with each subordinate unit within this command. We will continue to solicit feedback from each and every individual. My open door policy remains in effect.

– Language and cultural awareness training remain an essential part of the qualification course. All students must achieve a 1+/1+ rating in their assigned language before entering the operational force; which is above the operational force minimum standard of 1/1. Up until 2006, students earned their Green Beret after successful completion of Robin Sage.

– As an institution, SWCS has moved language instruction several times to optimize the flow of course instruction. I’ve recently adjusted the phasing of the SFQC, by moving graduation ahead of language training. By doing this, Soldiers who are already language qualified go directly to the Operational Groups after attending the Military Free Fall School; while those who are not qualified will attend language school and MFF before going to their Group assignment.

Again, I don’t know anything more about this situation than any of you will after reading the letters.  All I know is that it has been a tough couple of months for Special Operations commands.  Just recently we had the news of the two Navy SEALs who are alleged to have strangled a Green Beret and then falsified documents to try to hide some malfeasance involving their money used for informants.  Coming closely on the heels of that is this letter, when that previous investigation is still on-going.

There are, of course, two ways to look at this.  One is that the anonymous cadre are doing this to honor other Green Berets and keep the standard the same.  They are obviously aware of the earlier issue as well, but felt it couldn’t wait, and something needed to be done.  But on the other side, it’s just the optics of the Special Operations Command as a whole having issues, be it with rogue SEALs in DEVGRU or training standards at JFKSWCS.

I’m certainly not picking a side here, and I would hope no one else who isn’t intimately involved in this will either.  This is truly one of those “you had to be there” type moments.  Likewise, I can’t think of anyone who wants to see the value of the Green Berets diminished as a whole.  Sure, the accusation is there that some are slipping through because of cronyism, which you will always find, but I don’t doubt that even those helping their not-completely-qualified projects get through still want the Green Berets to be the elite fighting force they’ve always been.

In all, it’s just tough to see a path through this.  Again, “feckless, selfish, and recreant” is a fairly specific and damning statement to smooth over.

Category: Army News

Comments (68)

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  1. Sapper3307 says:

    Does anybody else remember the witch hunt involving the Resister journal at Fort Bragg 199??

  2. AW1Ed says:

    He said, she said. Not a lot of credence in an anonymous e-mail on one hand, but the whole smoke-fire thing on the other. Major General Sonntag has responded, and now the Senior NCOs (who like to let MGs et al think they run the military) will step up to un-fuck the situation.

    Just like always.

  3. Jorge says:

    1+/1+ up from 1/1 is interesting. To put it into perspective, Going from a 1/1 to a 2/2 is 10 times harder than from 0/0 to 1/1. And a 1+/1+ means almost but not quite a 2/2, it does not mean somewhere in the middle. Not impossible, if the language portion is still 24 weeks, matter of fact, it is quite likely, IMHO.

    • NHSparky says:

      I will say this: there are places in our military when standards have been allowed to slip.

      In the nuke pipeline, around 1990-95, the mentality shifted to pump versus filter. Let them get to the fleet and we’ll weed them put there, became the philosophy.

      End result? More kids going sad panda, having to jack up SRB from $20-30k to over $100k for a single reenlistment, and yet readiness and knowledge did not improve.

      YMMV.

      • Jorge says:

        Yeah, the “revolution in training” these days is much the same: give them the basics (a lot of the pre-work via CBT), send them to the fleet and then modularize the training. Thence the “remove the rate” thing from MCPON Stevens and focus on NEC’s. They gave back the Rates but the basic premise lives on. I don’t think I learned a hell of a lot in 87 at Goodfellow for the “spook” part of the training – the follow on was the crucible and where you got the full monty. But when it comes to super-critical MOS’s and NEC’s (like SEAL, nukes, SF, etc) I would hope that you would be able to do much of the critical work right from school. Totally understand the boat JQR’s and everything before you can stand watch, but at least you know WHY you are important as upper level watch. Imagine if the nuke school was just letting the math failures slip on through? Or the folks who had no idea of the chemistry? Language courses are the same, of course… nothing beats the firm foundation DLI can give you – no room at the sites to have to spend the enormous amount of time to bring a kid up to the required level of the billet.

        OK, now I’m just rambling.

  4. Mason says:

    Any time there’s a call for vastly increased numbers, the training standards and processes need to be re-evaluated.

    You telling me that the US Army of 1940, about a quarter million men, was able to be expanded to more than 8 million five years later without training being shortened or adjusted like this?

    The heart of the problem is that the politicians have put too much on the special operations community. They like using small numbers in low visibility, easily denied operations.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      Most of the Marines who ended up at the Chosin Reservoir did their basic training on the boat ride to Korea.

      • Mason says:

        Didn’t know that, but that’s insane! Just shows how much the norks surprised everyone.

        • UpNorth says:

          Actually, it shows how much Truman and his Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, cut the military in that time frame.
          There is this quote, from Johnson, to Admiral Richard Connolly, in 1949, “Admiral, the Navy is on its way out. There’s no reason for having a Navy and a Marine Corps. General Bradley tells me amphibious operations are a thing of the past. We’ll never have any more amphibious operations. That does away with the Marine Corps. And the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do, so that does away with the Navy”. With leadership like that, how could the U.S. go wrong? And, yes, that was sarcasm.

          • mr. sharkman says:

            It was allowed to happen for a couple of reasons.

            Most of the military had its budget slashed to the bone, except for SAC (for reasons explained below). They were looking for a ‘peace dividend’ at the end of WW2. So in Korea we had trucks from Japan rolling ashore with 20km of tread remaining, and M1 Garands with polished smoothed bores.

            Also, a certain ‘genius’ sect at the Pentagon came to the brilliant conclusion that with the advent of the nuclear bomb, land warfare was a thing of the past.

            Then Korea came along and reminded everyone that hills would still have to be taken with riflemen fixing their bayonets.

            It’s a common pattern with America. Win a war, and then slash an efficient, experienced military until its a shadow of its former self, then learn the hard lessons all over again.

        • mr. sharkman says:

          Well, technically, it was China that did the surprising. 😉

          • Hondo says:

            In November 1950, yes. But the North Korean invasion in July of that same year was also quite the surprise – to pretty much everyone except Kim Il Sung and his cronies. Reputedly, it came as a surprise to both Stalin and Mao as well as Truman.

            I’ve read accounts that indicate that both Stalin and Mao each purportedly green-lighted it on the condition that the other was in favor. Problem was, Kim Il Sung apparently kinda neglected to tell both Mao and Stalin that he’d not gotten the other’s blessing. In fact, he may have led each to believe that the other had already given his blessing.

            Just another example of unity and cooperation in support of World Socialism. (smile)

          • David says:

            Chinese 9th Army… the Norks only really provided the playground

            • Hondo says:

              Again: in Nov 1950, yes. However, no Chinese troops were involved in the invasion of South Korea in June 1950. Chinese troops didn’t get involved in any significant way until well after Inchon – which occurred in Sep 1950.

              The Chinese entry into the Korean War was indeed a surprise – though it shouldn’t have been (Red China warned us through intermediaries that they would intervene if we got too close to the Yalu). But so was the original North Korean invasion in late June 1950.

      • Atkron says:

        I watched a REALLY good documentary about the Frozen Chosin Marines. Several of the men do recount that they were in the Reserves, and were awaiting Boot Camp when the war broke out.

        Some of those men had never touched a firarm before, let alone a machine gun or hand grenade.

        Talk about OJT.

        Sobering and scary.

    • SFC (R) Blizz says:

      There in lies the problem. Increased use of SPECOPS because the American people don’t count SPECOPS as “boots on the ground” (a phrase I hate). Some of these missions could be completed by a conventional unit, but political necessity requires a lie to the American people. It also requires an uncaring populous that allows themselves to be lied to. I’m not taking away from the SPECOPS community nor denigrating their importance. Just making the point that we have grown the unconventional force because its politically unacceptable to put a conventional soldier at risk. If you want numbers, then eventually someone is just going to give you the numbers you want (a lesson I learned while sentenced to recruiting duty).

  5. Ex-PH2 says:

    Quote: Regardless of one’s opinion on the topic, a universally accepted truth a universally accepted truth recognized by all parties is that if women yearn to join the force, they should meet the same standards achieved by those men they wish to serve with. This is where no reasonable person disagrees. No one has said “If they want to join, give them a lower standard so they can join.”

    I do not see any indication that women think the standards should be lowered.

    Let me repeat that:
    “…a universally accepted truth recognized by all parties is that if women yearn to join the force, they should meet the same standards achieved by those men they wish to serve with.”

    If it’s universally accepted by all candidates, male and female, that the standards should not be lowered, then why are they being lowered? Other than a political agenda, there is no valid reason to drop the standards, any more than there would a reason drop the standards for getting an advanced degree, or for getting a license to practice medicine.

    If the observations by the writer(s) of the letter are true, I do not see any reference differentiating between male or female candidates, therefore, I believe it addresses all candidates instead of a single group.

    My concern is that this training program has indeed been viewed by someone as a source of political leverage, and not for its real purpose. I can’t think of anything more detrimental to it than that.

    • mr. sharkman says:

      With the exception of intel-related assignments where their gender proves itself to be an asset (see the IDF on this one), women have no place at the business end of SOF, period.

      • rgr769 says:

        Ditto. I can’t imagine how women, men who wan to be women, or the rest of the LGBTQwerty alphabet of gender/sexual confusion will add anything to an ODA or any special op mission. They will be nothing but a distraction, at a minimum.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        I’m not arguing that point, but I do bear in mind that the Soviets used women as Red Army snipers during WWII, and the Kurds have been successfully training women for combat for quite some time now.

        I view this as something that was not though through properly but rushed into existence at the demand of someone else. The hidden agenda will be there until someone puts a stop to it.

        The ONLY woman in the pipeline for the Navy’s screening program for BUD/S dropped out in August this year. There isn’t anyone else coming along, so far. The standards are the same for all candidates, period. If any women make it through to BUD/S, they will have to follow the same training rigors as the men and they know it. I don’t know why it would be any different.

        Whatever is going on with the Army looks like politics to me and not much else. If so, then people who would otherwise serve usefully in an appropriate spot will end up dead. We already have women badly injured, losing limbs, in combat zones, never mind losing their lives.

        I would prefer that this “special ops” training be more rigorous rather than less. If the politics can’t or won’t be taken out of it, then there is something very, very wrong.

        • mr. sharkman says:

          If only the social justice traitors @ the pentagon had your common sense.

          The problem is their focus is on ‘get women graduates at all cost’. They don’t give a damn that said graduates would most likely not hack a continuous week on operational status. They just want to be able to squeal ‘See! Womyn passed the training!’.

          They have no idea nor do they care to learn that things only get harder – significantly so – when you really make it to the big leagues and are deemed worthy to go operational at a unit.

          I recall rolling my eyes when some instructors at BUD/S would lecture us: “You think this is bad? A year from now you’ll look back and laugh at how easy you had it here.”

          Forward a year or so and me, in AirOps for the first time, pancaking the fvck out of myself, covered in bruises and contusions from MOUT (first time ‘for real’) that hadn’t healed yet and re-injuring everything: “Holy sheet. They weren’t lying. WTF have I gotten myself into?”

          The pace is so fast, doubly so if god forbid you fall behind the curve, and you’re sweating for that one vague yet all-important goal – to measure up in the eyes of the seeming gods in your first platoon who all have 2 or 3 or more platoons under their belt.

          And in a rare case of instructors platitudes proving 100% true, you laugh internally thinking back to the days of BUD/S and how bad *you thought* you had it.

          There are a select few specific types of missions/ops where female operators truly shine and can get away with things that no dude could ever get away with.

          Standard ‘boilerplate’ missions tend not to be those types of missions.

          But here’s the rub. I’m fairly certain it’s the same with Army SF – it’s a platoon (or ODA) that deploys. When tasked with a mission it’s the personnel of the unit deploying that will be called upon. Having a gal in a platoon for an ‘average’ specops deployment means having a member of the platoon that will struggle on most of the ops that will come down the pipeline for that platoon. Straight SR and DA missions = a gal is a weak link. I’ve yet to see one who could hack the carried load for either type of op without wrecking herself in the process.

          FID? A gal is useless when working with any arab nation, and most in south and central america. Their warriors will simply refuse to work with a gal. Call it a cultural hangup.

          There are missions where women excel in SOF. I’m not going into any detail what those missions might be nor who may be executing such missions, but I’m happy to say that the need and the capability are not being ignored.

          But in the case of those special gals, they are sought out in advance and then put through far more personalized selection and training. The detailed pre-screening results in fairly good ‘pass rates’, but its not the kind of program you can front-load with massive #s and have it remain viable.

          The biggest failure is very senior leadership not willing to fall on their swords to protect the SOF community from this BS social engineering experiment. Past a certain rank, using that senior rank to protect the community and commands is really their entire reason for existing. They don’t do anything else, operations/planning and tactical level work are far, far beneath their rank, so to speak.

          • 11B-Mailclerk says:

            while I do believe that some of the advocates for “girls too!” are simply misguided seekers of fairness, the leaders of that bunch are -not-.

            They know exactly what they are doing: Feature not bug.

            Is the counter-move creating a girls-only prestige brand, with some of those essential missions, and just enough visibility to be a magnet to the real elite girls.

            A sister service, also “special”. But built around -female- reality.

            I think the visible/prestige robs the idiots of much leverage.

            Possible? Or wrong?

          • Ex-PH2 says:

            If you want to add up the years of damage, start with Carter (4), then Clinton (8), and add that last asshole (8). That’s 20 full years of it. There wasn’t enough real time in between to repair the damage done by Clinton and the 2nd asshole.
            The sleaze that has crept into the military is pervasive and won’t go away without major housecleaning.

            There is no easy answer to this, other than pull back, regroup and start again.

            The level of dishonesty and prejudice in the media is beyond bad, worse than it ever was in the 1960s, but it is backfiring because the very thing that bunch of slugs takes advantage of is available to everyone else. The result is that people are waking up to the fact that they’ve been deceived for years, and they don’t like it.

            I don’t know if there is a real answer to this. The Soviet example of training women for SOF during WWII is a good one. The Kurds train women in women-only units. They have plenty of volunteers. The Ho Chi Minh’s government recruited women to act as spies, quite successfully. There are videos online of young women watching trucks bringing troops into Bien Hoa. The minute they realize that the camera is on them, they drop their heads enough for those coolie hats to cover their faces. They were also just as likely to be in the field firing antiaircraft artillery at US planes as not.

            Whatever the problem is, it goes deeper than ‘let’s get the women into spots usually reserved for men’. During WWII, women were recruited to do that, filling men’s positions to release them for overseas duty. It was needed then, but things have changed. There is no official war underway, just headbutting contests.

            The process of getting this underway was corrupted starting in the previous administration and we all know it. It should stop and be corrected before some serious damaged is done.

            • 11B-Mailclerk says:

              Ex-PH2,

              Do not presume the Soviet stories are anything more than propaganda. Stalin and his crew were hardly paragons of honest reporting.

              Did Soviet women fight? Sure. It was a war for survival. Anyone who could fight, usually did so.

              Were the stories of hundreds of kills accurate? Highly doubtful. Likely just propaganda.

              Was female service without downside? No.

              I -strongly- recommend you read Kratman’s post “The Amazon’s Right Breast” at Baen (free)
              http://www.baen.com/amazonsrightbreast
              He has taken a hard look at the problems of women serving, especially in combat, and he has a number of points I think you may find useful.

              In it he references his novel “The Amazon legion”, which is a good story, but somewhat dependent upon the other books of the series. it details what appears to be a workable way to stand up a regimental-sized unit of female Infantry. You might like it. It may also make your head explode.

              (He is also my former CO, and I do respect him a -very- great deal.)

            • Ex-PH2 says:

              11B-Mailclerk, the only way women in SOF, e.g., SEALS, will work is if the platoons they are in are entirely made up of women.
              This is what the Kurds are doing with their women volunteers. They are trained by male instructors but are not mixed in with the male units.
              This is also what is going on in Norway with their female trainees – the units are all women trained by experienced male instructors, but they are not mixed in with the male units.

              This is a simple and practical way to get this done, but you have to have enough volunteers to make it through the screening process in the first place. So far it is not happening that way. That’s the reason so many women are failing and falling out.
              Stop dumbing down the standards for men so that more women can pass through, and return to the male/female standards that used to be in place. Keep the trainee platoons separate. If it’s done that way, the fallout and failure rates should drop.

              • IDC SARC says:

                lol…just….stop

                • mr. sharkman says:

                  They don’t understand your fear. I do, Brother, and allow me to speak briefly on your behalf.

                  The SARC fears an all-female SOF unit more than anything else in this world, with the possible exception of garden gnomes.

                  ‘Why the fear?’, you ask?

                  Because the day an all-female SOF unit is formed, they will have 1 medic, and that medic will be truly a slave to his duties for the next 100 years.

                  It’s the inevitability of the whole situation that terrifies him. Well, the inevitability of his torp falling over due to severe over-use.

                  I, personally, would look forward to such a development. It means I’d get to acquire the ultimate Christmas gift for him. An industrial-grade office stamp that reads ‘I WOULD HIT IT’.

              • Ex-PH2 says:

                Absolutely not. You guys bitch and moan about this constantly.

                If the Gubbmint wants women in SOF, then politics will continue to waste time and effort this way, and you get soothing, ‘nothing is wrong, everything is just fine’ public announcements like the letter to SOFREP in the article.

                Other than ‘stop recruiting women’ for this, do you have a more practical suggestion than mine?

                • Atkron says:

                  Ex-PH2, i don’t think that would fly because it would ring of ‘Separate, but equal’.

                • Ex-PH2 says:

                  That’s exactly my point. It is politics at work and nothing else.
                  Why was it okay for women to have their own boot camps in all services (Army, Navy, Marines) during World War II, get training in whatever field they qualified for at testing, and replace the men in those MOSs/ratings while the war was ongoing. They everything including working as mechanics and machinists until the war was over. This was done to fill empty slots when the men were sent overseas.
                  This ended for the most part when the War ended and the men returned to the States.

                  I do not view what is being done as a step toward equality at all. No matter what label you want to put on it, when there are not enough women interested to apply for something truly difficult like BUD/S, then they will be sent there whether they want it or not, all in the name of ‘equality’.

                  If so, it is not about equality and never has been. It is strictly politics.

              • Tom Kratman says:

                “the only way women in SOF, e.g., SEALS, will work is if the platoons they are in are entirely made up of women.”

                Interestingly enough…

    • jonp says:

      It seemed to me that lowering the standards was done specifically to allow women to graduate then go to the teams for training. Maybe I read it wrong but if this is true it would let un-qualified men and women pass through and waste a great deal of time and money.
      The claims are easy to verify. Are the standards being disregarded as claimed or not?

  6. MustangCryppie says:

    Phew! I would not want to be part of the teams right now. It’s a dangerous job, but this makes it a stupidly dangerous job.

  7. Green Thumb says:

    This is bad.

    I have heard that SOC is having issues across the board.

    From the SEALS and drugs, criminal behavior by others and the old command philosophy of “Punish them All”.

    Talked to a former MARSOC guy the other day and he said when he was getting out (a few years back) that they (DoD) were starting to hit them as well.

    I hope they rectify this without crushing morale any further.

  8. FatCircles0311 says:

    So we have an entirely self inflicted cultural crisis in the country which is obviously going to filter into the armed forces and with it being normal within all branches it’s obviously going to come to the supposed elite units as well. The complaints were specific. The response was written in political speak.

    As official policy for decades separate lower standards have been the norm for the DoD. Now the male only units are getting a taste of the stupid to set up the stage for diversity over basic physical standards. What a shit show.

    • jonp says:

      Remember decades ago when I was in that the physical standards for men and women were very different and yet we were supposed to operate on the same team doing the same jobs.

      The different physical standards recognized the difference in men v women and there is nothing wrong with that but don’t lower standards for everyone so that soldiers can get a participation trophy and feel good about themselves much like giving everyone a Black Beret so they felt all soldiery and hardcore without having to do that nasty Ranger Training.

  9. mr. sharkman says:

    100% with the Cadre on this. NSW has faced the same BS. ‘A lot of guys quit during winter hell weeks…I know! LET’S ELIMINATE WINTER HELL WEEKS!’ – this actually happened, after a certain Admiral promised the powers that be that he could ‘double the # of SEAL teams’. What they really did was siphon a few platoons from each existing team to create new, under-strength teams. More teams on paper though…

    Until the ‘leadership’ comes up with a viable, common-sense reason as to WHY ANYTHING was changed, it’s safe to assume that as usual, senior leadership made manning promises (more SF Soldiers) that they knew were damn well impossible to keep – UNLESS standards were LOWERED OR ELIMINATED.

    Cadre certainly has better things to do with their time (like training future SF Soldiers), so letters like the one provided should never be taken lightly.

    The elimination of the physical standards is a fvcking joke. A complete fvcking joke that will lead to good SF Men winding up KIA when their new guys (and gals? another fvcking joke) turn out to be no-loads in the heat of ops/battle.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Higher-ups like that ONLY care about how they look on paper and IMSHO they have a special place in hell awaiting their arrival.

      • IDC SARC says:

        “Higher-ups like that ONLY care about how they look on paper”

        There’s been an increase over the years in too many that never qualified or carried the ruck in positions that influence policy…and that’s all I have to say about it.

        • IDC SARC says:

          ok…one more thing. That previous comment was meant to cut both ways. If ya care about the community and how it’s trained, you have to be willing to suck it up and serve in that process sometimes. If you don’t, then you’re contributing to the problem.

          Stone steppers and barnacles are gonna take those positions if people that actually care about the training refuse to do so.

          • OWB says:

            Absolutely. And that principle applies to every profession. It should be considered an honor to train the next generation of folks who will continue the legacy of any job.

            Sure, most of us would rather do than teach. But, after we have acquired the knowledge and skills, aren’t we duty bound to pass along what we have learned?

  10. Rosalee Adams says:

    More of the dumbing down of our military (reminiscent of years ago how they were drumming for remedial for boot camp)
    Now I look at some of the stuff that is graduating from the academies and wonder what will be our future e.g. the black fist pumping females at West Point and the drone who wrote inside his cover at graduation:
    ‘communism will win’ but much more happened on Barry’s watch AND it ALL
    began with Barry who felt it to be ‘just another job’
    (it is not now nor has it ever been just another job)
    and SecDef Ashton Carter complied eagerly whipping out the ‘make it more user-friendly’ card.
    And the pièce de résistance????? when Barry awarded himself the DOD medal for distinguished public service

  11. Yef says:

    The politburo wants to change the APFT to the 6 event “combat focus” test.

    They claim is tougher and better.

    The reality is they want a way to say male and female standards are the same. They cannot do that with the current 3 event APFT because we all know the published standards, and any change would be highly visible, so they came up with a made-up 6 event test with the same standards for both male and female by lowering the test requirements, and because it is new, nobody has a reference point to claim the physical standards have been lowered.

    Im telling you, these politburo dudes at DOD are very sneaky.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      “Im telling you, these politburo dudes at DOD are very sneaky.” [sic]

      The snaeaky ones with an agenda always are, they didn’t reach that rank by accident and there are a number of 0bamites with high rank that need to be purged.

    • some guy says:

      what a load of crap. the apft was revised because it is garbage. its applicability to fitness in combat is debatable at best. the only reason it was kept in it’s current form for so long is that it’s easy to administer. you need a piece of (reasonably) flat ground and 2 miles of road (asphalt optional). i’ve seen tiny people do over 100 pushups and fly down the road as if the local brothel was runnimg a bogo special and it was 5 minutes to closing time while the 6’5″ powerlifters barely made it in under 18 minutes. but who do you think is more qualified to drag your wounded ass out of a firefight? or carry a 240b? or ruck 80lbs of equipment? the new test is a step in the right direction and more relevant to assessing combat fitness. but guess what? running and pushups are still a part of it! and you can bet your ass that they are still graded on a scale. so thanks for staying vigilant, but i suspect that in this case the dod is not conspiring to weaken our military.

  12. mr. sharkman says:

    ‘SOFREP, which if you didn’t know, is the premier website for special operators.’

    SOFREP has some good guys writing for it.

    The website is controversial with many in the SOF community, however. ‘They talk too much about too much that should not be revealed nor verified’.

    And Brandon Webb is none to popular with the NSW crowd. He has embellished his combat experience in his books and in various postings. He’s PNG with more than one Teamguy because of it.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Do you have a suggested alternative?

      • mr. sharkman says:

        No, I don’t.

        And I hope one never exists.

        They talk about things that should not be talked about in an open forum.

        They provide far too much verification on sensitive matters and subjects.

        Some things are not meant to be known except to a very small, specific group of persons. That’s just the way it is.

        They have SOF guys who have gone on to work the OGA side of things talking about OGA-related topics. Never in a million years would I have answered ‘sure’ if someone asked ‘Do you ever think an OGA/SOF veteran would ‘talk’ about it on the internet in an open forum’. The mind boggles.

        They can explain why it’s okay and come up with excuses to back up their explanation but they know damn well their website is an OSI gold mine for our adversaries.

        Nothing against the quality guys writing there – and there are definitely some quality guys with very impressive backgrounds – but myself and a lot of like-minded current and former SOF guys would be happy if SOFREP ceased to exist.

  13. Sj says:

    I have mixed feelings on all this. I could do non-stop situps. I could run forever. Yet, I could never do jackshit on pullups, even when a LONG time ago, I was slim. Even in high school I struggled climbing a rope. Bless the Black Hat at Benning who looked the other way when I was on the bars. Yet, I had a great career in combat signal including the 82nd and 101st. I climbed poles with the best of my troopers.

  14. mr. sharkman says:

    SFC Lilyea, I think you are being jedi mind-fvcked by management pseudo-babble.

    For example;

    ‘– No fundamental SF standard has been removed.’

    Well, that’s nice. What does ‘fundamental’ mean in this case, and who determines what is ‘fundamental’.

    I failed to see management refute the claim that no waypoints need to be nailed in LandNav. That’s a pretty damning statement, one that should be directly refuted were it not the case.

    We’re talking about Soldiers whose LandNav capabilities should be superior to all other Soldiers in the US Army. They rely upon it more and errors have far greater potential consequences.

    Considering that night LandNav is one of the toughest parts of selection for tier 1 units/personnel, the statement that ‘waypoints don’t matter’ in entry level SF training is truly shocking.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      The absence of specific-point refutation seemed glaring.

      -land nav- not essential to -SF- entry training? Seriously? -I- used a map and compass to do -my- job.

    • jonp says:

      I remember night land nav as sucking big time. Given a map and a compass and told to find a 1ft square sign on a tree with a letter on it 8 klicks away and 10ft in the air through a swamp and over a forest then turn in a different direction and do another and another and another… Better have them right.

  15. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    Folks, for those of you around in the late 70s, have we come full circle on the “Vietnam burnout” thing’s?

    An endless war without clear victory goals

    Worn out gear

    Worn out folks

    Collapsing standards

    Corruption

    Insane political bullshit

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